Alexandria Museum of Art is pleased to announce Reflections: African American Life from the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection, an exhibition of 50 pieces from the collection of renowned costume designer and arts patron, Myrna Colley-Lee, who lives in rural Mississippi. Reflections tells a highly personal story of community and place. Featuring work by prominent artists Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Carol Ann Carter, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest Crichlow, Gerald DeLoach, James Denmark, Roland L. Freeman, Randy Hayes, Rod Ivey, Gwendolyn Knight, Norman Lewis, Milly Moorhead, Joseph Norman, Tom Rankin, Paula Rego, Betye Saar, Maude Schuyler Clay, John Scott, James Van Der Zee, Thomas “TJ” Walker, Eudora Welty, Charles Wilbert White, Hale Woodruff, and George Yerger.
Comprised of paintings, works on paper, collages, and fabric works, the figurative and representational imagery of the exhibited pieces can largely be divided into two areas: narrative or genre subjects from everyday life, and the landscape of the American South. The juxtaposition of these two distinct yet related themes, allows viewers to connect the strong tradition of storytelling by African Americans, with the sense of place that is largely unique to Southerners. Myrna Colley-Lee is herself a transplant to rural Mississippi, and her collection reflects in part her personal appreciation of the two traditions and the way in which she sees them intertwine. This collection represents a dialogue between the artist and identity. Only by reflecting upon the lives, traditions, and environments of African Americans in the 20th century, can this identity be found.
Myrna Colley-Lee, owner of the collection featured in the exhibition, has been credited as one of the forefront costume designers in the Black Theatre Movement. In 2006, Myrna established the SonEdna Foundation, Inc., an organization which supports and promotes the literary arts, with an emphasis on the Mississippi Delta region, through building national partnerships for programming across the country. In her role as Founder and President, Colley-Lee travels nationally as an advocate of the literary arts while promoting the organization and establishing relationships with other organizations. Her primary vision has been to improve the quality of literary education and increased readership for students and adult residents alike in the Delta region. Colley-Lee has received numerous awards. Ms. Colley-Lee is the recipient of the Doctor of Creative Arts, honoris causa, from Mississippi State University, and the M.F.A. in Scenic and Costume Design from Temple University, studied scene painting and properties at Brooklyn College and completed the B.F.A. at the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Also opening on December 6th, AMoA presents Marie Constantin: Photographs of Mother Teresa. Baton Rouge photographer Marie Constantin captured rare, private behind-the-scenes moments of the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was one of two professional photographers in the U.S. invited to travel up and down the East Coast to photograph Mother Teresa in North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington DC, New York, and Calcutta. She also photographed Mother Teresa’s early visits to Baton Rouge in 1985 and 1986, and went to Calcutta three times to spend time with Mother Teresa. One of her photos was chosen by the Vatican as the official beatification photo to hang on Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome during the ceremony for beatification of Mother Teresa in 2003.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997) was known for her efforts in caring for the sick and poor, and received a Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. She was Albanian, born in what is now Macedonia. At age 18, she left home to become a missionary in Ireland, and then transferred to teach at a missionary school in India, where she later established the Missionaries of Charities, which now runs hospices and centers for the blind, aged, and disabled in over 130 countries. Through her work, Mother Teresa encouraged everyone she encountered to, “Keep the joy of loving in your heart.”
Marie Bissell Constantin—an American still photographer—is internationally known for her photographic works of the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta. While Constantin’s commercial work takes her to local Fortune 500 Companies, industrial plants, hospitals and a host of hometown businesses, it was her personal work that took her to some of the world’s worst slums—Calcutta, Haiti, Nicaragua and Tijuana—where she photographed and worked with humanitarians working with the poor. A YWCA Woman of Achievement, and winner of numerous awards in photography and writing, Constantin is a eight-time winner (2003–2008, 2010, 2011) of Gold Addy Awards in the Annual Reports category. In 2007 she won a Gold Addy for Best in Show and that work appeared in Communication Arts Magazine. Constantin is a 1986 graduate of Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Journalism.
For the more tech-savvy crowd, AMoA will debut Our Cenla: The Muse Juried Instagram Exhibition on December 6th. The exhibit asks, “What does Central Louisiana look like through the unique and creative eyes of the next generation of photographers?” This exhibition presented by The Muse—AMoA’s club for teens and young adults—features photographs inspired by images throughout Cenla taken by area youth and shared via Instagram, an online photo-sharing website and mobile application.
Instagram allows users to upload photographs and short videos via their mobile device. It also offers the ability to apply a variety of filters and effects to enhance the captured image. The ease of use and ubiquity of smartphones has inspired a new generation of photographers to capture their world in a fun, new way.
The Alexandria Museum of Art is located at 933 2nd Street in Alexandria. Museum Hours are Tuesday thorugh Friday from 10:00am to 5:00pm, and Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. AMoA offers free admission every 2nd Saturday! Regular Admission is $4.00 for Adults, $3.00 for Seniors/Students/Military (w/ ID), $2.00 for Youth (ages 4-13), and free for Children (4 & under). Images provided courtesy of Ian White and the respective artists. For more information, call the Museum at (318) 443-3458 or visit AMoA online at www.themuseum.org.